book review

Review! The Name Of The Star – Maureen Johnson (SPOILERS)

the-name-of-the-starLouisiana teenager Rory Deveaux flies to London for the start of a new life at boarding school. But her arrival is overshadowed by a sudden outbreak of brutal murders, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper.

‘Rippermania’ grabs hold of London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory has seen their prime suspect on the school grounds. But her friend Jazza didn’t see anyone…

So why could only Rory see him? And what is he planning to do next?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense and romance, Rory discovers the truth about the secret of London and the truth about her own shocking abilities, as Jack the Ripper returns…

The blurb for ‘The Name of the Star‘ really doesn’t give much away in the terms of grasping an idea what the story is about. I went into reading this book with no idea how the story line was going to pan out, and I think that helped with the overall enjoyment of the book. 

Ironically, I picked this book up in London, around four, maybe five years ago, but never got round to reading it as my younger self was a little too scared if I’m being perfectly honest. Whilst history absolutely fascinates, especially the dark, gruesome side of it, the Ripper murders definitely leave me with an uneasy feeling, Maureen Johnson managed to channel this with her writing brilliantly. The amount of real historic fact and fiction balances out perfectly in this novel and I enjoyed learning more and more about the Ripper’s antics back in the day.

To begin with ‘The Name of the Star‘ is rather slow placed and almost plays out like the start of a contemporary novel; teenage girl moves away from home, attends boarding school and starts a new life – until the first murder is committed. From this point onwards any predictability completely evaporates and the narrative soon picks up pace. 

“Even Jack the Ripper himself  had reappeared as part of the greeting committee.”

Mystery, family, and friends definitely play large parts in the narrative, but one of the things I liked the most about this book was how even though there was romance included between Rory and Jerome, it almost took a backseat and became a secondary story line as opposed to overshadowing the main plot. Instead of looking forward to each scene between the two characters, I was looking forward to finding more out about the murders; the make out scenes were just a nice little addition that happened to take my mind off of the spooky stuff!

If I had to make one criticism of  ‘The Name of the Star‘ it would be that after the introduction of Stephen, Callum and the Shades, the rest of the plot felt rushed. The build up until this point was so strong and intense, that the ending seemed to fall flat slightly, the motive for the murders committed by the ghost of Anderson could have been so much stronger and grittier I felt. 

“Fear can’t hurt you,” she said. “When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”

That being said, I still gave this novel four out of five stars on Goodreads, as despite being extremely freaked out and thankful that I don’t live in London, I was completely hooked on it and found myself questioning why I’d left it this long to read it. The history, both fact and fiction (such as the history of the Shades) is so interesting, and goes hand in hand with the backgrounds of Stephen and Callum, and how they became members of the Shades. Overall I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the others in the Shades Of London series! 

“Keep calm and carry on. Also, stay in and hide, because the Ripper is coming.”

 

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